Take a walk with MLK Jr. this Monday

Last year around this time, as folks surfing wave after pandemic wave faced a difficult decision of whether to gather together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we suggested for those staying home a streamable festival of films about MLK and the fight for Civil Rights. Now that more of us are feeling comfortable out walking, although many are still reluctant to gather in crowds during what has been called the triple-demic of flu, RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus), and COVID, we offer up a range of downloadable audiobooks so that whether you march with others or just take a quiet walk on your own, you can walk along with Dr. King.

There are several recordings of King’s own speeches and sermons to choose from, from the epic 15+ hour essential box set, to the somewhat briefer anthology A Call to Conscience, or the more sermon-centric A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration From the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and its political counterparts The Birth of a New Nation and Where Do We Go From Here? All of these compilations were assembled by Stanford historian Clayborne Carson, and feature original audio of King’s stirring and profoundly impactful oratory together with helfpul introductions and commentary for added historical context. For a briefer selection for young and old listeners alike, check out King for Kids, in which recordings of King’s most iconic speeches are introduced by such notable Americans as George McGovern, Coretta Scott King, and Andrew Young. Or to focus in on King’s best known speech, check out I Have a Dream, which features the orginal recording of Dr. King’s speech, together with a reading by actor Blair Underwood, and a new foreword written and read by poet Amanda Gorman.

Listeners who only know King from his speeches may find his longer prose works a revelation. Try Dr. King’s powerful and desperately relevant final book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community, in which Dr. King grapples with a pervasive racist backlash against the advances of the Civil Rights Movement, and how this was inexorably tied to economic and social inequalities in the North and South. Dedicated to nonvoilent solutions, Dr. King expressed his concern over the increasingly militant Black Power movement, and the widening gulf between political extremes. Seasoned audiobook narrator J.D. Jackson captures the conflicted thoughts and feelings of the great leader as he seeks pragmatic solutions amidst mounting unrest and violence.

There are too many excellent historical works about Dr. King and his era to list here, but among the very best on audio are David Garrow’s Pulitzer Prize- and Robert F. Kennedy Book Award-winning Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Michael K. Honey’s To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, which highlights Dr. King’s less well-known activism and leadership toward addressing income inequality and workers’ rights. This resistance to exploitative capitalism would give rise to the Poor People’s Campaign, in furtherance of which Dr. King was supporting a sanitation worker’s strike in Memphis, in April 1968, when he was assassinated. It may be argued that this aspect of his mission was Dr. King’s truly revolutionary side, certain as it was to alarm the powers that be. Many more excellent audiobooks about King and his work, for listeners of all ages, await on this list in our catalog.

     ~ Posted by David W.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: